Our Shopping Guide to the Best Cheap Board Games!
Wait! What’s that noise? An approaching siren? An… ice cream van?! It’s me pedalling furiously toward you in the Shut Up & Sit Down Budget Bus, adding a host of surprising prices in this sequel to our indispensable article, How To Build an Amazing Board Game Collection for $10. GET ON BOARD.
BUT FIRST. The infinite complexities of the modern world mean that prices are inevitably in flux, that different currencies offer different possibilities, that exchange rates rise and fall like a well-fed gull perched on a wavelet. With this in mind, we’ve chosen to focus foremost on deals we’ve spotted in the US, as so much of our audience is in North America, but we have also hunted for bargains using Euros and Mighty British Pounds wherever we can. We’re not quoting any shipping or customs costs, either, just the base costs we find.
We’ve kept one eye on Amazon, one on major independent retailers and one on the excellent BoardGamePrices.com and BoardGamePrices.co.uk sites (yes, we have three eyes, stop staring). Sure, you can buy through the Amazon affiliate links on our game pages, and thank you if you do, but bear in mind these may not be the cheapest deal and we’ll never begrudge you if you don’t. In fact, we’ll always encourage you use both the sites above to shop around and, in particular, to support your independent retailers.
AWESOME BOARD GAMES WE LOVE THAT ARE PRETTY CHEAP RIGHT NOW
LET’S GO! What better way for us to sate your growing appetite than with Sushi Go Party!, one of the best card games out there. Not only is it as h*ckin darn cute as a kitten on catnip, it’s also quick to teach and an excellent way to start a games evening or reel new gamers into the hobby. Right now, you can find Sushi Go available for between around $12 and $15 through many US retailers, between £10 and £12 in the UK and under €20 in mainland Europe.
All right then! Fired up? Energetic? Where’s all that enthusiasm going to go? How about you plough it into the canny Codenames. This perplexing and frequently hilarious game of guessing and wordplay is one of Czech Games’ very finest titles, a jewel in a crown that can be seen glittering for many miles, and it will cost you as little as $17 in those United States, or between £12 and £13 across much of those United Kingdoms. Like Sushi Go, it could be the game that converts more acolytes, uh, fans to our cause.
Once you’ve warmed up with those two modern marvels, consider something a little more traditionally economic, such as SU&SD favourite The Castles of Burgundy, ideal for fulfilling all your crenellated needs. You can expect to find this Ravesnburger darling for around $25 to $29 through many North American retailers, though sadly it’s not quite as affordable or readily available in Europe right now, meaning you might expect to pay something in the mid 30s, but that’s still not a bad price for this fine fellow.
The colossal success of Pandemic means it’s practically a cornerstone of the industry at this point and pretty much the definitive co-operative game. It’s now almost impossible to move in the United States for lose copies of Pandemic, which explains why it’s as cheap as $23 at some retailers there right now.
Ticket to Ride’s perennial popularity has also brought its price down, with customers in Britain able to find it for as little as £29, while our buddies across the pond might pay as little as $25, which is nuts cheap. Shopping around in Europe, you can find it for around €29 and it’s always worth noting that it’s German name is Zug um Zug.
It would be impossible for me to write this without mentioning tile-laying titan Carcassonne, a game whose name I reflexively cry out in my sleep every night, or sometimes feel compelled to whisper into the ear of a stranger’s dog. These days, a British person can start their Carcassonne journey for a reasonable £24, but in the US the game is as cheap as $15. FIFTEEN DOLLARS. I’m almost insulted.
If we’re talking about stone cold space combat classics (and when aren’t we?), you cannot do any better than the diplomacy and double-bluffs of Cosmic Encounter, a game that had achieved legendary status even before I could chew properly (i.e. last year). It’s not on the cheap in Europe or the UK right now, but it is flying around the US for as little as $23. $23! Again! What is it with that number?
Worry not, though, British buddies, as chess-like insect invasion Hive Pocket is very affordable, listed as low as £15 within our borders. It’s similarly cheap in the US, at around $18 or $19, and in Europe it can be found for about €13 right now. That’s the price of a mid-range dinner! Just forego dinner for one evening! For the sake of plastic bugs!
If you’d prefer indulging in something very different, the diametric opposite to the logical and segmented experience of Hive is the frantic fumbling and snatching of Jungle Speed. This knuckle-knocking dexterity game is bouncing around the US for as little as $12 right now, it’s a mild £14 in the UK, which isn’t quite as much of a bargain, but still not to be sniffed at.
The US really gets to go to town on Dominion right now, with base sets like Intrigue, Seaside and Prosperity going for great prices between $25 and $29, while Europe also has some sets as low as €19 to €24. All of Dominion’s base sets work perfectly well as standalone games, but mixing and matching can be a lot of fun and, if you’re looking for somewhere to start, I’d personally recommend Intrigue.
While I’m not the biggest fan of Istanbul, I can’t deny that it’s so well-loved and Quinns has had a terrific time playing on many occasions. It would be uncivil of me not to mention that this smart, sly Eurogame is available for for a modest $33, with copies of the bumper Big Box Edition going for around €38 in Europe. Both of those are very good deals, but the second is particularly impressive and should make all British people feel vengefully jealous.
We do get a better deal on Spyfall, however, and while £19 isn’t as dramatically low a price as some games here, it’s still a good deal on an absolutely gargantuanly great game of bluster and bull. Americans pay an even sassier $17 for this marvel and, if they’re cheeky enough to search for Spyfall 2, can find that for just $15. That’s a lot of very cheap fibbing.
If you find you’re developing an addition to cheap fibs (let’s face it, we’ve all been there at some point in our lives), then the bare-faced lying of Coup is also so incredibly affordable in the US right now. It’s selling for as little as $7, a sentence I can’t believe I just typed, and while a UK price tag of around £14 (or £11 for Reformation) is not a bad deal, they just don’t compare.
There’s an even tinier price pinned to Love Letter right now, which has been sighted by our experts at a mere €10 around Europe, £8 in the UK and $5 in the US. This is shockingly good value for money and if there was some sort of graph where we plotted fun versus price, Love Letter would ride high at the tip of an astounding peak. Don’t you dare think that a game so small and slight is any less exciting or extraordinary. Love Letter is a legend.
Azul is a game I feel passionate about in my deep and pulsing heart, and this bold, beautiful creation is also something of a steal in the US right now, available for as little as $28. Here in the UK, £32 isn’t quite as impressive a deal, but it’s still not bad for something so weighty, glossy and glorious. And amazing. Did I tell you it’s amazing? It’s amazing.
Santorini is beloved by many and nobody can deny that it’s both accessible and quite, quite charming. This beautiful box is an impressively cheap £26 in the UK right now and an insanely inexpensive $21. It’s rare to find a game as polished, pretty and also chunky for such a good price.
Similarly physically impressive, the wild west action of Colt Express is an impressive £23 for Brits and $32 for Americans, while it’s been spotted trundling through continental Europe for as little as €19. How appropriate that, at such a price, it’s a steal. But please don’t steal it. It’s important I’m clear that we do not endorse that.
Another game that’s jaw-detachingly cheap in the old world right now is Hanabi, which is retailing for a mere €6. Here in Britain, it’s lurking on shelves at £10, which is not baaaaad, but when Americans can grab it for $5, envy abounds. Five dollars for a game takes us into the realm of the ridiculous!
We’ve seen several impressive Reiner Knizia re-releases over the last few years and I think my favourite of those has to be Modern Art. Convenient, then, that this terrific game has been spotted in the US for $23, the best deal on this darling that you’re going to find anywhere, and…
…that same designer’s tight, two-player card game Lost Cities never seems to go out of fashion. It certainly doesn’t hurt that it’s selling at bargain prices right now, which include a reasonable £16 in Britain, about €15 around Europe and just $10 in the US. I am certainly seeing a theme here with these US prices and that theme is Americans sure got it good right now.
And last but not least, if you’re searching for even more no-nonsense, fast-paced, two-human action, Star Realms is not only one of the most loved deck-building games out there, it’s also one of the cheapest games in this roundup, available for as little as $9 in the US right now. Nine dollars for a terrific card game! Were you and your friend going to enjoy coffees together? Pool that money and get Star Realms instead!
BUT PAUL WHAT IF I JUST WANT TO PLAY ROLE-PLAYING GAMES INSTEAD?
You mean you let me ramble on for all that time when what you needed was The Bundle of Holding? I can’t possible leave without a nod toward this site, whether you’re a dedicated RPG fan or not. It’s a constantly rotating door of superb deals on all sorts of packages that you can download as PDF scans and the savings you can make are frequently absolutely extraordinary. Not only does the PDF format mean that you safe shelf space, it also means you immediately have a whole bunch of material that’s as portable as your laptop or tablet and some of the money you pay goes to a charitable cause.
Right now, the Bundle is showing off Deathwatch, the Warhammer 40,000 roleplaying game, with a starter set worth $70 on sale for just $17, plus $75 more of material if you’re willing to hand over $30. Not only are these savings huge and something that makes an often expensive hobby more accessible, the site never stops. There are also deals on Symbaroum an OneDice right now, while past Bundle bargains have included new and classic titles, including Delta Green, Pendragon, Deadlands, Traveller Dragon Age and so much more. Scientists have confirmed it’s bonkers. If you’ve any interest at all in RPGs, I’d recommend adding this to your bookmarks right now.
But let’s not stop there! Do you have any hot tips on excellent board game deals right now? Any favourites you’ve spotted on sale? Any bargains you absolutely must tell us all about? Let us know in the comments below.